Times 28543 – Some bloggers drop by

Time: 27 minutes

Music: Allen Pettersson, Symphony #5

On my first run through, I did not get any complete across answers – I only had the last word in one of the long ones.   So I thought it might be a little hard, but usually the downs turn out to be easier in such cases, and so it proved.   There were a couple of clues that use some more advanced cryptic methods, but many solvers will just biff the answers and not worry overmuch.

Overall, I would say this one is of average difficulty once you get started – nothing too esoteric is included, and the literals are mostly easy to find.

1 Old society girl with mad somersaulting seriously injured? (7)
STABBED – DEB BATS backwards.  Old made me want to use an O or EX, but the setter seems to be finally admitting that debs are no more.
5 Kitchen item in British Library? (7)
9 It’s damp across hill before hint of sun for travellers (9)
10 Being injured is shock, little good (5)
11 Material offered by officer putting worker off (5)
12 Fur trade’s arranged by this dodgy dealer (9)
14 A hot toddler we’d rocked to get asleep (4,2,3,5)
17 An imaginary heaven? Do not, do not come down to earth (5-5,4)
21 Very good Las Vegas game, but learner’s missed out in spin (9)
23 Beast, cad — no leader (5)
24 Picture not showing wine next to a dish (5)
RAITA – [port]RAIT + A.
25 People in excellent matches — provisions for spectators say? (9)
26 Baby with nappy not right wobbling about? (7)
27 Hair concealing one grand female — a beastly type (7)
TIGRESS – T(I,G)RESS, with a tricky placement of female in the clue.
1 Food provided by Christian group entertaining prophet (6)
SAMOSA – S(AMOS)A, a food that is very popular in crosswords recently.
2 A short course for goddess (7)
3 One may need skill interrupting a drunken spree? (9)
BARTENDER – B(ART)ENDER, a chestnut in &lit form.
4 To chop down trees on site affords redeveloping (11)
5 Vehicle taking Oxbridge sportspeople regularly (3)
BUS – B[l]U[e]S.   Indirect anagrams are not allowed – how about indirect alternate letters?   Easy enough to biff if you don’t see it.
6 Stopped losing head and relaxed (5)
EASED – [c]EASED, another chestnut.
7 One may be troubled, somehow not trustful ultimately (7)
DOUBTER – Anagram of TROUBLED – [trustfu]L, a Mephisto-ish technique.
8 Anger about traditional fashion industry (3,5)
13 Feat of a Greek character — this writer participating in festival. say (11)
15 Wife suffering is rolling round (9)
WALLOWING – W + ALLOWING – suffering in an entirely different sense.
16 Liven up, being at home with whisky? (8)
INSPIRIT – IN + SPIRIT, where ? indicates a DBE.
18 Ruling from some clever dictator (7)
VERDICT – hidden in [cle]VER DICT[ator].
19 Chemical substance picked up in nocturnal journey (7)
20 Gets hold of Government’s original files (6)
GRASPS – G[overnment] + RASPS – those kind of files!
22 Decree establishing four nations as one ultimately (5)
UKASE – UK AS + [on]E.
25 Big woman here in matrimonial crime? Little woman! (3)
AMY – [big]AMY, always a popular answer to a three-letter clue.

88 comments on “Times 28543 – Some bloggers drop by”

    1. Um, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But not long, I think, before only two remain, and even NI may, just may become part of a united Ireland one day.

      1. As far as I’m concerned, can’t come soon enough. A united Ireland may actually precede an independent Scotland. The Welsh, however, will be happy to stay where they are.

        1. England subisdises all the other three, which would have to change their standard of living a fair bit if they went independent, and NI most of all. Can’t see them throwing that away any time soon.

          1. Don’t believe everything y0u read in The Times or hear on the BBC: other analyses are available. As for Ireland, compare and contrast standards of living, average incomes, GNP per head of population, mortality rates, unemployment etc., in Dublin and Belfast, in 1920 and 2020, and then tell me independence from England – or London – is a bad thing.

            1. I’ve spent time in both Dublin and Belfast .. but maybe this is not the place for a discussion about independence

      2. The word is Russian; a tsarist decree originally. The current Tsar seems to be fond of such arbitrary rulings.

        1. Indeed, plus la change, although the average Russian almost certainly considers themself much better off than once they were..

    2. If a certain despot had his way, yes, and probably a few more nations besides!

  1. 38 minutes with a few unknowns or forgottens (INSPIRIT, DISAFFOREST and UKASE) causing delays. At 17ac my first thought was ‘Cloud-Cuckoo Land’ and although it didn’t even fit in the grid it took some shifting from my brain.

    I noticed the indirect element to the wordplay in BUS but decided it was fair because every day we have to think of words and knock off a letter from one end or the other so why not a regular pattern of letters throughout the word? Anagrams are different I would have thought because it’s a basic rule of the clue-type that the letters being anagrammed should all be shown.

    1. Hasn’t the precedent for allowing indirect anagrams in The Times been set already? We had the following clue a couple of weeks ago for instance:

      Spoil sleeve when cycling (3) ARM* = MAR

      1. True, but we don’t know whether that represents a change of policy or an example that slipped through the compilation and editorial processes unnoticed.

      2. It’s not an anagram, in this instance. The wordplay tells you to ‘cycle’ the M – in other words, to move it to the front. It is indirect, however, and so borderline dodgy, IMO.

        1. I’ve been dealing with Times crosswords right back to the 1920s, just lately. If nothing else they teach you that rules change.. unwritten ones especially

        2. I beg to differ. An anagram is a word or phrase formed by the letters of another in a different order. It’s still an anagram even if explicit instructions are given on how to do the reordering.

          1. An anagram must lead to any possible sequence of the anagrist, even if it’s meaningless. This is not an anagram, since the instruction leads to only one possibility.

        3. It’s an anagram. There is no instruction or implied instruction to ‘cycle’ the M.

          1. Let’s have another think about that one. The R is the central letter of ARM, so it can’t ‘cycle’, being, as it were, the centre of the circle. The A can ‘cycle’, but would lead to RMA, which is not a word I’ve come across. Which leaves only one possibility. So not an anagram. Unless I’ve somehow ‘misunderstood’ what an anagram is. Or what ‘cycle’ means.

            1. Does it not depend on how literally we interpret ‘cycle’? If it is just one of the many words used to warn of an impending anagram, it seems OK, though I admit ‘recycle’ might be less controversial.

              1. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen ‘cycle’ used to instruct the solver to carry out this specific operation. And I would agree that ‘recycle’ would properly indicate an anagram. Either way, it’s still indirect, and a bit dodgy, to my mind.

  2. 26 minutes. I missed the parsing of RAITA, thinking IT was ‘wine’ and wondering how ‘Picture not showing’ could possibly be RA. I parsed DOUBTER as a semi-&lit, with the whole clue as the def and only ‘One may be’ not contributing to the wordplay. I was surprised to see INSPIRIT wasn’t noted as being “archaic” in any of the sources I looked at.

    I liked the NIGHT RIDE homophone; would have been even better if Paul Revere was lurking in the grid, but no.

    1. 19:39. I took DOUBTER as an &lit too. Couldn’t parse RAITA fully but after UKASI went in there was only one option! NHO DISAFFOREST (I would have tried to biff DEFORESTATION if it weren’t for FRAUDSTER already being in), and I’m stil not convinced TOTTERY is a word 🙂

      Thanks for the blog!

  3. 17 minutes, with LOI UKASE constructed and RAITA then parsed. A couple of minutes were wasted wondering if DISAFFOREST was really a word. COD to TOTTERY. Now and then you get days like this when things fall into place. Not often though! Thank you V and setter.

  4. 10:30. A bit slow at the start pondering a word beginning DAM for 1A before moving on. I’m surprised to find DISAFFOREST is a word. I was glad the setter resisted cross-referencing 23A in TOTTERY. COD to BARTENDER. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

    1. AFFOREST and AFFORESTATION are known words, but their natural opposites would be DEFOREST and DEFORESTATION, which are nowadays all too familiar! I suppose DISAFFOREST might be construed as reversing a prior act of AFFORESTATION?

  5. My VERDICT is “Not very hard”
    An ACHIEVEMENT that’s pretty standard
    With BLENDER, started fast
    And OTTER was my last
    DISAFFOREST – a word that just jarred

  6. 8:07. This felt curiously trickier than that but the answers kept flowing in. DISAFFOREST is a strange word, as is the NHO UKASE.

    1. It seems we’d both forgotten UKASE as it appeared in #27672 in May 2020. We both commented on the puzzle but neither of us mentioned the word. The wordplay was perhaps a little more helpful on that occasion with UK being clued as ‘this country’ rather than ‘four nations’.

      1. As topicaltim often says, ‘never heard of’ should really be considered shorthand for ‘forgotten the last time this came up’!

      2. There’s also no need for ‘establishing’ in the clue. It’s grammatically correct without it.

  7. DNF. I had NITRITE in place of NITRIDE, loosely thinking that a rite could be a sort of spiritual journey. It didn’t help that I’m not familiar with NITRIDE, which just puts me in mind of the 80s TV show Knightrider, starring David Hasselhof and a talking car.

  8. 26:26. Same issues with vocab as others above, including NITRIDE (not nitrate?) in my case. Otherwise good Monday fare. I (mis)parsed the goddess as A S(hort) TARTE (course) but it was fine. LOI PIROUETTE and my COD for the coming together of PI, which I never spot, and ROUETTE, which looks an impossible combination of letters. Many thanks for the blog

  9. The Gadfly he hath Stung me sore–
    O may he ne’er sting you, …

    30 mins mid-brekker. I struggled with some of this and felt some clues a bit loose. But I liked Bartender.
    Ta setter and Vinyl.

  10. 36mins so standard fare for me. A gentle start to the week. Several unknowns as others, and the odd DISAFFOREST worked out in the end. LOI, ASTARTE dragged up from somewhere.

    I liked BLENDER and BARTENDER best.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  11. 15.41 though I had to sort out the spelling of the peculiar ‘disafforest’. I actually prefer to solve on paper as it’s easy to enter incorrect solutions online due to the software overprinting letters, which one notices much more readily on paper.

  12. A gentle start to the week, and all solved in two passes, apart from the cumbersome LOI.

    TIME 7:17

  13. A quick solve for me but derailed by a double BID (bunged in desperately) with AMERICAN crossing NITRATE, neither with the slightest parsing justification. Liked a lot of this, but why on earth is disafforest a word when we have deforestation and presumably this deforest?

    Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  14. 21:57 I thought this slightly tougher than the usual Monday fare. DISAFFOREST and INSIPRIT both looked very strange but “had to be”. TOTTERY is a lovely word but BLENDER was COD .

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter

  15. Quick and straightforward except for a careless nitrite…
    I suppose if you can afforest, you can disafforest but I will carry on deforesting, thank you.. except we are planting trees like mad on our land

    1. Hi Jerry, ‘Disafforest’ can also mean to take away the title of forest from a piece of land, at least in the olden days it did.

      1. Indeed, deforesting and disafforestment are (or used to be) two different things.

        The whole county of Surrey was disafforested by king John in 1207, in return for 500 marks. This does not mean that all the trees in Surrey were chopped down; the county just gained the privilege of escaping from oppressive forest laws.

        1. Thank you (both) – one lives and one learns.
          I believe that afforested or not, Surrey has a higher percentage of tree cover than any other English county, good for it..

  16. 22 minutes of fun but not the easy ride I like to experience on a Monday. Top LH gave me a lot of trouble before Astarte gave me some impetus. LOI disafforest which is a new word to me.
    A few contenders for COD with samosa, bartender and Astarte but the middle one gets my vote.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  17. Beaten only by UKASE…would have biffed it but didn’t dare as it felt so wrong despite UK being four countries and screaming to insert the K, but any other alphabet trawled letter felt more right…went with ‘r’ – as good as any (well, apart from ‘k’ obviously).

    35mins or so of attempted solve.

    DISAFFOREST was an unknown word but worth a biff once all the ‘deforestify’ etc had been made up and discounted!

  18. Had 1a DAM AGED which would parse if you ignore “society” and “girl” in the clue.
    Failed on 5a BREADER which is more of a task than a kitchen utensil. Unches meant I never spotted my laziness.
    Failed to parse RAITA at 24a even though I did parse it the last time it came up. DOH!

  19. Just over the 30 minutes mark today, so about average for me. LOI was UKASE and COD was BARTENDER for the smooth surface. Thanks, setter and V.

  20. I found this fairly easy, though some, such as the goddess at 2dn, needed checkers in place before I got the answer. UKASE was very familiar as I used it in a clue myself recently. I didn’t see the wordplay for BUS, and I can’t say I care for alternate letters from a word not in the clue.
    23 minutes.

  21. Got off to a good start with the anagrams at 12ac and 14ac and the long one at 17ac, which helped to set me up for most of the remainder, and sprinted over the line in 19 minutes. I thought this the easiest puzzle for some time, with minimal head-scratching. Even the more esoteric answers such as INSPIRIT, RAITA, and DISAFFOREST emerged from generous clueing.
    Thanks to vinyl and other contributors.

  22. 22:19

    Nothing too difficult here, though I’d NHO DISAFFOREST, didn’t remember AMOS and guessed ASTARTE, INSPIRIT and UKASE some of which I felt I might have seen before.

    Failed to parse BUS – blues just did not occur to me. Enjoyable Monday fare though.

  23. Another who found this relatively straightforward and I finished well inside target at 34.20. The only one I couldn’t parse was RAITA, and like Bletchley thought the wine was IT, with no idea how the RA worked. Remembered UKASE from a previous crossword, so not a problem, but was a tad worried about DISAFFOREST which sounds an odd sort of word to me. All in all a good workout however.

  24. First couple in were BUS and SAMOSA. A steady plod through the unknown DISAFFORESTED section, eventually led me past the rolling AMENITIES to finish with UKASE (having constructed it, the word was vaguely familiar, but not the meaning) and RAITA, which I did manage to parse just before submitting. 20:23. Thanks setter and Vinyl1.

  25. 18:30. DISAFFOREST was a new one. I see it can mean to chop trees down, but must, I imagine, be used these days only in its legal (historical?) sense. It would be an ugly alternative to deforest. The BUS clue was unusual in calling for surgery on a clued word. I thought that wasn’t considered cricket in The Times crossword.

  26. 18’04” from which I need to deduct a minute or so because the site crashed on me. Same as above passim in re DISAFFOREST. The historical/legal meaning makes sense, but the clue says CHOP DOWN TREES. Liked the BARTENDER clue which I’ll pass to my son who is one. I suspect it’s not the first time that trick has been used, though. UKASE is familiar because the French use it a lot — usually unfavourably — to mean a summary edict.

  27. 21 minutes which I thought was going to be quicker, but breader at 5ac slowed me down. Strange, because it all seemed very easy despite the unknown/forgotten DISAFFOREST and INSPIRIT. Azed told my clue off once for being ‘a clue to a clue’, which is what the BUS clue is. But if we aren’t allowed this freedom, setters are horribly restricted, aren’t they?

  28. One error in 12:41. Another NITRITE instead of NITRIDE having initially gone with NITRATE.

    COD: BARTENDER. Nice &lit.

  29. Enjoyable elsewhere but really struggled in the NW. In the end dnf because of Astarte (with apologies to our former blogger). Enjoyed Blender, Raita and Achievement.

  30. 08:50, one of those slightly uneven Mondays where most of the puzzle is straightforward, but with a sprinkling of the difficult (UKASE) and unfamiliar (DISAFFOREST, INSPIRIT). Nothing to derail a successful solve, anyway.

  31. 20 minutes, but with U*A*E unfilled as no idea what to guess and DK UKASE. Liked the BUS wordplay, nice to see a different idea.

  32. Another NITRITE here. Not careless, though. I originally had NITRATE but could see that RATE didn’t work. I thought of ‘rite of passage’ as a journey, and I was honestly surprised to see the pink square. Obviously RIDE works better but I didn’t know NITRIDE was a thing, and I didn’t see a problem with the answer I put.

    Oh well.

    1. “Rite of passage” may be a “journey,” but it’s the “passage” that makes it so, not “rite.”

  33. Finished on the second attempt.

    In the end I was left with the TOTTERY/UKASE crossing. I hadn’t heard of terry nappies, and although I could parse UKASE, I thought “There’s no way that’s a word”, so I just put it in with a shrug as I’d basically given up by that point. So imagine my surprise to come here and find out it is actually a word.

    Quite tough for a Monday, I thought. I didn’t understand what was going on with AMY at all, as the only matrimonial crime I could think of was adultery, and I was unfamiliar with DISAFFOREST and ASTARTE. It was a while until I figured out STABBED too, even once I’d seen the deb part of it.

    FOI Nitride
    LOI Ukase
    COD Fraudster

  34. As someone with a biochemistry degree I am ashamed to trip up on NITRIDE. If I’d ever heard of this then it has slipped from the memory in the intervening 44 years. I could only think of nitrite and convinced myself that rite could be a journey as in rite of passage. Ho hum – other than that no real problems although had to trust the wordplay and cross fingers for UKASE.

    Thx V and setter

  35. Thanks, just found this blog from the Times comments section. Great for explaining answers I’ve correctly biffed but not been able to work out the cryptic (such as Raita today) so can improve my education! I took Astarte as A_S_TARTE with tarte being the course??

  36. 6m 16s
    DISAFFOREST! Great word, never heard of it. The NW corner was the trickiest for me by some distance.

  37. Some of this was very easy, but a few obscure words made for a very slow finish. I didn’t know the goddess or UKASE (pleased to work that out). INSPIRIT as a single word and DISAFFOREST also unknown. These clues felt very barred puzzle.

  38. 14:30 this afternoon. I very much agree with Vinyl’s summary of this puzzle and my experience progressing through the puzzle was very similar.
    A few NHOs today all of which have been covered by earlier contributors.
    Am I just being picky (or dumb?) but I had an MER at the use of “on” in the clue for 4d “disafforest” – I didn’t really see it as a “linking word”.
    Liked 19 d “nitride” which I remembered from Chemistry in school many eons ago.
    Thanks to setter and to Vinyl.

    1. “On” is supposed to be part of the definition (though the only definition of DISAFFOREST in some dictionaries is not “to chop down trees on”).

  39. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. My complete lack of chemistry knowledge stood me in good stead as I confidently assumed there was a word called NITRIDE, which better-equipped solvers eschewed. UKASE, however, was a different matter. I only entered it because I couldn’t think of anything else possible – I didn’t actually believe it was a word. Likewise with DISAFFOREST and INSPIRIT. Unusually, my first two in were the long 17 and 14A, some of the last the very short BUS and AMY, with checkers. I did parse them once in, however. Working out 3D from the cryptic, my first inclination was to reject BART-ENDER as not being a thing before I read it correctly! TIGRESS was much helped by having appeared quite recently. Liked PIROUETTE and MOTORISTS.

  40. Another nitrite here- again with rite of passage being a journey I thought- so didn’t consider nitride! Shame to fail at the first hurdle this week after a rare successful week last week!

  41. DISAFFOREST was my LOI (just now!) and I was wondering why anyone would say that when “deforest” is available, but found that DISAFFOREST (whose definition Vinyl neglected to underline) does not mean “to chop down trees on” but rather “to reduce from the privileges of a forest to the state of ordinary land : exempt from the forest laws.” Collins allows that it can also mean “to remove forests from”—but it’s surely not the best word for that. (I see that the definition has been mentioned, above.)

    AMY was POI, and parsed only after writing it in.

    The clue for BARTENDER is very good.

  42. It would have been a doddle, except that getting to the not-quite-according-to-Hoyle Bus and the slightly arcane Disafforest quickly made me thing “ah, this is going to be tricky”. So I dutifully thought carefully about all the easier clues just in case. thanks, vinyl

  43. Another NITRITE here and I could only guess UKASE from the wordplay but I thought this was a tidy puzzle. Thanks for the blog.

  44. Completed this one (a day late because I didn’t have any time yesterday). Took about 40 minutes, a lot of that hesitating over DISAFFOREST – I couldn’t see what else the answer could be, but I’d never heard of it and couldn’t believe there was any such word -doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, does it?

  45. Only held up here by determining DAMAGED was the answer to 1a, and NHO UKASE ( don’t have time for other crosswords of any ilk!), nor DISAFFOREST ( tho’ it had to be). Liked BARTENDER, my COD, BLENDER and MOTORISTS. Disastrous sticking to my guns on ATHLETICISM (feat of a Greek?) however meant the crossing clues took a while to tease out ! 😦

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